As many of you are aware, we are in the transitioning phase of this website as we close out TeamUV.org and transition to EngineeringAFuture.com over the next two months, so this will be Andrew’s last Open Mind post here at Team UV, but not to fear, there are still two months of posts left here and the same types of articles will be carried over onto EAF (Engineering A Future), so without further ado, please enjoy the following:
Last week, I had one of the best educational experiences of my life: a whole day of teaching 6th graders about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)! My lovely girlfriend is a 6th grade, Math and Science teacher and was constantly asked by her students as to when I would visit her class. With the build of DORY in full swing and wrapping up my undergraduate degree, I just couldn’t make time for a visit during the school year. In the last few months, my interest in teaching has grown, especially teaching about science, technology, and engineering. I knew I would take the opportunity to speak to her kiddos the first chance I could get.
My girlfriend and I made plans for me to visit the second to last day of their school year. Her kids and I couldn’t be more excited. I made a presentation about STEM and how it applies to our everyday lives. I appealed to their interests by highlighting: famous people and how they use technology, popular electronics and how they wouldn’t be around without STEM, and popular social apps and how they came to existence using STEM. I also showed them famous celebrity engineers such as Ashton Kutcher, Rowan Atkinson, and Michael Gambon. I then continued to show them projects I worked on in my undergrad such as an obstacle avoiding cart and DORY, as well as a live demonstration of a self-balancing wing. They had so many questions with some that showed real engineering intuition. Seeing the excitement in their eyes and the “light bulbs” turn on was a fulfilling moment for me.
At the end of my presentation, I gave them a little background on electrical motors and brought materials to help them make their first simple motor. With a couple of magnets, a battery, copper wire, and a bit of patience they all made a homopolar motor. One team even had their motor spin for 14 minutes before the wire fell off. We even had time to make paper bridges which turned into a very competitive activity!
Although the day was filled with laughter and excitement, it didn’t come easy! Often times we (meaning my girlfriend!) would have to correct the kids when they would get too roudy or speak out of turn. By the end of the day, we were both so exhausted. I have a new appreciation for middle school teachers and am glad I had the chance to try out the position. It is one difficult career! Teaching 11 year olds may not be in my future, but teaching STEM classes could definitely be!
Until next time…